Scientists Boost Broccoli’s Cancer-Fighting Properties

Various studies on the relationship between certain diets and diseases have shown vegetables can fight, and perhaps even prevent, many illnesses. People whose meals consist of mostly green vegetables have a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. But what most people don’t realize is that one of the most nutritious vegetables, broccoli, can also battle the growth of certain types of cancer cells. The healing qualities of broccoli have now been augmented by research scientists. Whether you have a friend or family battling cancer, or found broccoli’s versatility in the kitchen an interesting point in your online cooking class, these facts will change the way you see this veggie.

Researchers have known for years that a daily diet of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and kale, is linked to lower rates of colon, prostate, breast, skin and lung cancer. These veggies contain a special enzyme called sulforaphane that inhibits HDACs, enzymes closely associated with cancer cell growth. Sulforaphane is believed to detoxify harmful chemicals like smoke and other environmental pollutants. Glucosinolates (GS) are helpful enzymes found in broccoli and its cousins that  are also a powerful detox agent.  It is this enzyme that John Juvik, a scientific researcher from the Department of Crop Studies at the University of Illinois, and his colleagues are working with to determine which GSs boost the cancer-fighting properties of broccoli.

Juvik and his team tested the natural hormone methyl jasmonate by spraying it on multiple groups of broccoli while the broccoli was still in the field. Their research is showing that the vegetables that were sprayed had increased levels of glucosinolates, as well as other helpful enzymes. In addition, sulforaphane levels increased by as much as 150 percent.

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